Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act Challenged in Constitutional Court

Uganda's Anti Homosexuality Act Challenged In Constitutional Court

Uganda’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act, which has sparked global outrage and condemnation, is now being challenged in the country’s Constitutional Court. The law, enacted in May, imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment and even the death penalty, for individuals found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts.

Rights groups and activists have petitioned the court, arguing that the law violates the principles of equality and human dignity. The legislation has faced significant international backlash, with the World Bank halting new loans to Uganda and the United States imposing visa restrictions on key officials in response to the enactment of the law.

The Ugandan government, however, is defending the law, asserting that it is necessary to protect traditional family values. The law, known as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, includes provisions for the death penalty in cases deemed “aggravated,” such as engaging in gay sex with a minor or when one partner is infected with a life-threatening illness like HIV.

The law was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers in parliament and subsequently signed into effect by President Yoweri Museveni. In August, a 20-year-old individual became the first to be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” under the law, accused of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a 41-year-old. The case was expected to be heard in the High Court due to its classification as a capital offense.

Uganda has not carried out an execution since 2005, but the law’s severe penalties have raised concerns about human rights abuses. According to recent reports by rights groups, over 300 instances of human rights abuses against LGBTQ+ individuals have been documented in Uganda in the first eight months of this year. These abuses include beatings, torture, arrests, and forced evictions from homes.

In response to the legislation and its human rights record, the United States has announced that Ugandan goods will no longer receive preferential access to its markets starting next year. Despite international pressure, the Ugandan government remains defiant, emphasizing that it will not yield to foreign influence.

It is important to note that many Ugandans hold socially conservative views and support the legislation. The issue of homosexuality remains highly sensitive in the country, with divergent opinions reflecting cultural, religious, and traditional beliefs.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling on the challenge to the Anti-Homosexuality Act will have significant implications for the protection of human rights and the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda. The case highlights the ongoing struggle between traditional values and human rights, both within the country and on the global stage.


Source: BBC

Ugandan Woman, Safina Namukwaya, Becomes Africa’s Oldest New Mother at 70, Gives Birth to Twins

Ugandan Woman, Safina Namukwaya, Becomes Africa's Oldest New Mother At 70, Gives Birth To Twins

In a remarkable milestone, Safina Namukwaya, a 70-year-old woman from Uganda, has become Africa’s oldest new mother after giving birth to twins. The boy and girl twins were delivered prematurely via cesarean section at 31 weeks and are currently in stable condition, receiving care in incubators.

Namukwaya expressed her joy upon learning about her pregnancy with twins during a routine checkup. “When I had a checkup, they told me I had twins, and I was very happy,” she shared.

The successful pregnancy and delivery were made possible through fertility treatment at the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre, where Doctor Edward Tamale Sali supervised Namukwaya’s journey.

“This is an extraordinary achievement, delivering twins to Africa’s oldest mother at 70 years,” stated Dr. Sali, emphasising the significance of this milestone.

Notably, this is Namukwaya’s second delivery in three years, having given birth to a girl in 2020. Dr. Sali highlighted that age should not be the sole factor determining a woman’s ability to bear children. “Age is just a number. A young woman can also die of complications from pregnancy,” he explained. “And an old woman, if she is fit, can also survive.”

Thanks to advancements in medical technology and treatments, women like Namukwaya can now conceive and give birth even after reaching menopause, typically occurring between the ages of 45 to 55.

With the birth of the twins, Namukwaya has achieved the distinction of becoming Africa’s oldest new mother, showcasing the evolving possibilities in reproductive medicine.

This remarkable story serves as a testament to the progress and opportunities available to women who aspire to have children later in life. While it highlights the potential for older women to safely undergo pregnancies with appropriate medical support, it also sparks conversations about the ethical considerations and potential risks associated with advanced maternal age.

Nevertheless, Namukwaya’s journey is a source of inspiration and hope for many, demonstrating that age should not be a limiting factor in pursuing the dream of motherhood.


Source: Africa News

Uganda Faces Alarming Surge in HIV/AIDS Infections Ahead of World AIDS Day

As the world prepares to observe World AIDS Day, Uganda is confronting a distressing surge in HIV/AIDS infections, with over 1,000 new cases reported each week, averaging a troubling 158 cases per day, according to the Uganda AIDS Commission.

The Uganda Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment conducted a comprehensive evaluation, revealing significant regional variations in HIV prevalence, ranging from 2.1 percent in the North East (Karamoja) region to 8.1 percent in the Central 1 region (Greater Masaka).

The country is witnessing an alarming trend with the consistent reporting of at least 1,000 new infections per week.

Dr. Cecilia Nattembo, Regional Medical Director at Uganda Cares, underlines the seriousness of the situation, stating, “The distribution of HIV prevalence across regions highlights the complexity of the challenge we face. Urgent and targeted interventions are needed to address the varying rates.”

Despite a 22% decline in new HIV infections since 2015, Uganda recorded 52,000 new infections as of December 2022, according to the Uganda AIDS Commission.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health, acknowledges the persistent high levels of new infections, stating, “While we’ve made progress, the current numbers still pose a risk to global commitments. Our focus remains on achieving the 95-95-95 targets.”

Dr. Aceng further highlights Uganda’s progress, stating, “As of today, we have achieved a 92-94-94 milestone on the 95-95-95 targets. This signifies significant strides in our efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Reports indicate that South Buganda and Mid North are currently experiencing the highest burden of new HIV infections, with adolescent girls aged 15-24 being the most affected, accounting for nearly four out of every five new infections.

The 2020 Uganda Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment reveals that the current HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 and above is 5.8%, a slight decrease from 6.2% in 2016. Prevalence among women stands at 7.2%, while men report a prevalence of 4.3%.

In light of these alarming statistics, Uganda grapples with the urgent need for targeted interventions and increased awareness to curb the surge in HIV/AIDS cases. These findings emphasise the significance of sustained efforts on the eve of World AIDS Day, as the nation strives to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensure the well-being of its citizens.


Source: Nile Post

Uganda’s Rising Disease Burden Linked to Climate Change: A Looming Public Health Crisis

Uganda's Rising Disease Burden Linked To Climate Change

Uganda, often referred to as the “Pearl of Africa,” is facing a mounting public health crisis as its disease burden continues to rise, with climate change emerging as a significant contributing factor. The East African nation, known for its diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity, is experiencing the direct and indirect impacts of a changing climate, leading to the proliferation of diseases that pose a threat to both human and animal populations.

One of the most pressing concerns in Uganda is the increased incidence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns have created favourable breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes, expanding their geographic range and intensifying transmission rates. Communities that were once considered low-risk areas are now grappling with the burden of these diseases, putting a strain on the already fragile healthcare system.

Malaria, in particular, remains a major public health challenge in Uganda. With over 90% of the population at risk, the country accounts for a significant portion of global malaria cases and deaths. Climate change-induced factors such as warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns have not only prolonged the transmission season but also created conducive conditions for mosquito breeding. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including floods and droughts, further exacerbate the situation by disrupting malaria control interventions and leading to population displacement, which facilitates disease spread.

Beyond vector-borne diseases, climate change is also linked to other health concerns in Uganda. Waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid are on the rise due to the contamination of water sources during heavy rainfall or flooding events. Prolonged droughts and changing precipitation patterns also contribute to water scarcity, compromising proper sanitation and hygiene practices, which in turn increases the risk of diarrheal diseases.

Furthermore, climate change affects agricultural systems and food security, indirectly impacting public health in Uganda. Erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged dry spells, and increased pest infestations pose significant challenges to crop production and livelihoods, leading to malnutrition and vulnerability to diseases. The resulting food insecurity can weaken immune systems, making individuals more susceptible to various illnesses.

Recognizing the urgency of addressing this emerging crisis, the Ugandan government, in collaboration with international partners, is taking steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change on public health. Efforts include strengthening disease surveillance systems, improving access to healthcare services, and implementing climate-resilient agricultural practices. Additionally, initiatives are being undertaken to raise awareness about the links between climate change and health, empowering communities to adapt and build resilience.

However, addressing Uganda’s rising disease burden linked to climate change requires a multi-sectoral and collaborative approach. It necessitates increased investment in healthcare infrastructure, research, and technology, as well as policy interventions that prioritize climate change mitigation and adaptation. International support and funding are vital to enable the country to implement effective strategies and build capacity to tackle these interconnected challenges.

Uganda’s rising disease burden is a stark reminder of the profound impact climate change can have on public health. Urgent action is needed to mitigate the effects, protect vulnerable communities, and secure a sustainable future for the people of Uganda. Only through concerted efforts, both locally and globally, can we hope to address this pressing issue and protect the health and well-being of Uganda’s population.


Source: NilePost


Militia Commander Arrested for Tourist Murders in Uganda Faces Charges for School Massacre

Militia Commander Arrested For Tourist Murders In Uganda Faces Charges For School Massacre

In a significant development, a militia commander belonging to the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) has been arrested for the brutal murder of two foreign tourists in Uganda. The commander, identified as Abdul Rashid Kyoto, also known as Njovu, now faces additional charges related to a school massacre that took place in June. This revelation was made by a Ugandan general on Friday, shedding light on the commander’s alleged involvement in multiple heinous acts.

The arrest of Kyoto and the demise of six other members of the commando group were announced by the Ugandan army on Thursday. These individuals were accused of carrying out the shocking killings of a British and a South African honeymooner, as well as their guide, in Queen Elizabeth Park on October 17.

The ADF rebels, known for their affiliation with the jihadist group Islamic State, have faced previous allegations by Ugandan authorities for their involvement in attacks. These include the assault on a school in Mpondwe on June 17, resulting in the tragic deaths of 42 people. Another attack occurred on October 28 in Kasindi, located in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), claiming the lives of four individuals, including two Ugandan soldiers.

General Dick Olum, who leads the anti-ADF operation in the DRC, emphasised the connection between these three attacks and Kyoto’s command. “It was the same Njovu, alias Abdul Rashid Kyoto, who commanded these attacks and the attack on the two tourists and their guide,” stated General Olum during an interview with AFP. He further revealed that substantial information regarding the ADF’s activities and the leaders behind these violent missions has been gathered.

The capture of Kyoto brings a sense of reassurance to both Ugandans and tourists alike, assuring them of ongoing operations aimed at ensuring safety and defeating the ADF. The murders of the two tourists in one of Uganda’s renowned parks had raised concerns within the tourism sector, which significantly contributes to the country’s GDP.

Originally a rebel group with a Muslim majority in Uganda, the ADF expanded its operations to the eastern part of the DRC during the 1990s. In 2019, they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which claims responsibility for certain actions conducted by the ADF and presents them as its “Central African Province” (Iscap).

The ADF has been accused of perpetrating massacres of thousands of civilians in the DRC in recent years, in addition to carrying out jihadist attacks on Ugandan soil. In response to these activities, a Ugandan court handed down sentences ranging from seven to ten years of imprisonment to seven individuals, including a 75-year-old man, for their involvement with the ADF. The convicts pleaded guilty to charges of belonging to a “terrorist organisation,” financing terrorism, and trafficking children for recruitment into the ADF. Disturbingly, one of them admitted to recruiting his own children into the ADF and committing acts of rape.

The arrest of the ADF militia commander, along with the prosecution of individuals linked to the group, represents a significant step in combating the threat posed by the ADF and safeguarding the security and well-being of Ugandans and visitors to the country.


Source: Africa News

Africa Young Innovators for Health Award Recognises Pioneering Entrepreneurs Driving Universal Health Coverage

In a celebration of scientific excellence and innovation in Africa, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa have announced the winners of the second edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. The prestigious award recognises young entrepreneurs who are making significant strides in advancing healthcare solutions and driving universal health coverage in their communities.

The first prize winners of the award are Teniola Adedeji from Nigeria and Dr. Moses Ochora from Uganda. Adedeji, the CEO of Pharmarun, an on-demand platform that provides convenient access to essential medications, expressed her commitment to ensuring universal health coverage through collaborations among pharmacies. Dr. Moses Ochora, the Co-Founder and CEO of Photo-Kabada, a remotely monitored phototherapy device designed to reduce neonatal jaundice-related morbidity and mortality, emphasised the importance of homegrown solutions in achieving universal health coverage.

The second prize winners of the award are Nura Izath from Uganda and Muhammad Abdullahi from Nigeria, who were also recognized for their innovative contributions to healthcare in Africa.

The second edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award focused on innovations that aim to achieve universal health coverage across the continent. While many African governments have expressed their commitment to achieving universal health coverage by 2030, there is a need to accelerate progress. The award sought to support entrepreneurs whose innovations can extend population and service coverage while ensuring financial protection for patients.

Yacine Djibo, the Executive Director and Founder of Speak Up Africa, highlighted the importance of fresh and purposeful health innovations in advancing equity and delivering essential health services. The award aimed to promote gender equality and support entrepreneurs who contribute to the goal of universal healthcare coverage.

Thomas Cueni, the Director General of IFPMA, congratulated the winners and expressed the organisation’s commitment to accelerating innovation in delivering universal healthcare coverage. Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director of Neglected Tropical Disease at the World Health Organisation and a jury member of the second edition, commended the program for its tangible and intangible support to African entrepreneurs, contributing to the achievement of common goals.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is a program launched in 2021 by Speak Up Africa and IFPMA. It provides young health entrepreneurs in Africa with funding, business mentorship, intellectual property rights guidance, media training, and access to a network of supporters and partners.

Supported by organisations such as Amref Health Africa, Forum Galien Afrique, and Women in Global Health, the award program recognises the crucial role of innovation in realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and fulfilling the fundamental human right to health.

The winners of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award are poised to make significant contributions to advancing universal health coverage and transforming healthcare in Africa. Their innovations hold the potential to improve health outcomes and create lasting positive change in their communities and beyond.


Source: Independent Uganda

Ugandan Startup Transforms Banana Waste into Biodegradable Handicrafts

In Uganda, a local startup called TEXFAD is revolutionising waste management by transforming discarded banana stems into biodegradable handicrafts. The innovative business idea aims to utilise the abundance of banana waste in the country, which is often left to rot in open fields after the fruit is harvested. TEXFAD extracts banana fibre from these stems and converts it into various products, including hair extensions, contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to waste disposal.

Uganda, known as a “banana republic,” has the highest banana consumption rate in the world and is Africa’s leading producer of the fruit. Bananas hold cultural significance in the country, where they contribute up to 25 percent of the daily calorie intake in rural areas, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation.

TEXFAD collaborates with seven different farmers’ groups in western Uganda, purchasing dried banana fiber at $2.7 (USD) per kilogram. The company also partners with Tupande Holdings Ltd., which supplies banana stems from farmers in central Uganda. Tupande’s workers carefully sort through the stems to select desirable ones, and machines are then used to extract the fiber and convert it into fine threads.

John Baptist Okello, the business manager of TEXFAD, highlights the economic benefits of their initiative, stating that it provides additional income to struggling farmers while simultaneously transforming waste into valuable products. The company’s efforts contribute to job creation, the industrialization of Uganda, and the improvement of the lives of its citizens.

While TEXFAD currently works with more than 60 farmers, the potential for banana waste utilization is vast, with over a million hectares of land in Uganda dedicated to banana plantations. Banana production in the country has been steadily increasing, reaching 8.3 metric tonnes in 2019, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

At a facility located near Uganda’s capital, Kampala, TEXFAD employs more than 30 individuals who use their hands to craft various items from banana fibers. The company exports products such as rugs and lampshades to Europe. The versatility of banana fiber allows it to be softened to a cotton-like level, making it suitable for a range of applications. TEXFAD is also working with researchers to explore the development of fabrics made from banana fibres.

In addition to handicrafts, TEXFAD is designing hair extension products that offer an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic options. Faith Kabahuma from the company’s banana hair development program emphasizes the environmental benefits of biodegradable products, as synthetic fibres often contribute to pollution and waste accumulation.

TEXFAD’s commitment to sustainability and innovation demonstrates the potential for transforming waste materials into valuable resources. By harnessing the abundance of banana stems that would otherwise go to waste, this Ugandan startup is creating economic opportunities, promoting environmental consciousness, and contributing to the country’s development.


Source: AP